Turning your own photos and digital images into wallpaper, wall murals and large wall graphics is one of the easiest things anyone can do to create truly unique décor for their home, office, retail store, restaurant or any other kind of business.
[Note: If you want to know the ins-and-outs of creating your own custom wallpaper mural using your own images, keep reading below. There’s some useful information. But if you just want to get right to it, then click over to our “Create a Custom Mural,” page, upload your photo and select your size and material. It’s a super-easy, fool-proof process. We personally review every submission to make sure you’ll be 100% satisfied with the final product.]
Custom wallpaper printing used to require talented photo professionals with a keen eye and expensive equipment, costly printing processes, and a lot of time and patience. Today, anyone can:
- do it from the comfort of their own home or office with their computer (or phone),
- do it affordably (often at much less than the cost of a large framed print),
- get it done with just a few mouse clicks and delivered quickly (usually within a week),
- and can put it on their wall with a friend or two (beer, wine & pizza to follow).
Indeed, improvements in modern digital photography and photo scanning technologies combined with improvements in large format printers, inks and wallpaper materials has opened up a whole new world for wallcoverings.
This Is Not Your Grandmother’s Wallpaper
Maybe you have an aversion to wallpaper. Maybe you remember you and your folks peeling it off the walls in small pieces, never being able to get off the glue and residue, even taking the wallboard or plaster right off with it. Or is that just my memory?
In any case, wallpaper murals now come in a variety of materials, from pre-pasted wallcoverings that you wet with a spray bottle to peel-and-stick wall decal material to commercial grade Type II that requires paste (and a little bit of experience).
All of them apply – and perhaps more importantly, remove – with ease. No stripping, scraping or scrubbing required. In fact, the self-adhesive wall murals can be removed and re-installed somewhere else, making them perfect for students, renters or people who move frequently.
Forget The Inches & Switch To Feet
Now that you’re more sure of this whole idea of turning your favorite family portrait or vacation photo into a 5 FOOT by 8 FOOT wall mural instead of a 5 inch by 8 inch table-top photo, lets drill down into the process a bit to make sure that you get absolutely the best quality and most satisfaction possible.
It All Starts With A Quality Photo or Digital Image
Before I tell you all of the things to look out for, I’m going to tell you not to worry about making a mistake when working with Magic Murals to create your wall-sized (or smaller) masterpiece. You see, on the front end we make it easy to do pretty much everything yourself… you really just upload your photo file, pick your size and material, get a confirmation that your file meets minimum image requirements and click “add to cart.” It’s all automated.
On the back end, however, actual real-life, eating/breathing/sleeping human beings take over. You see, we’re craftsmen at Magic Murals and if we wouldn’t want it on our walls, we’re not going to let you put it on yours.
Every image that is submitted is looked at by our eagle-eyed technicians. If the image isn’t going to look good at the size you’ve selected, we’re going to put production on hold, contact you, and work on the solution. The solution might be a different photo, a smaller sized print, or some photo-editing on our end to make the picture workable for the size you want. We’ve got a lot of tricks up our sleeve.
The More Pixels In The Image, The Larger The Print Can Be (generally)
First things first… the larger the print/mural you want to make, the higher the resolution of the digital image needs to be. This has nothing to do with focus or contrast or anything else; it’s simply a matter of how many pixels wide by how many pixels high the image is.
If you Google “how big can I print my iPhone pictures?” you’ll get dozens of sites (like this or this or this) that will tell you. Don’t take their recommendations as law. They’re mostly talking about pictures printed on matte or glossy stock meant to be viewed up close and personal. Your wallpaper mural is going to be viewed from a distance, generally of at least a few feet to a few yards away.
Here’s a handy equation that will help you determine if your image is large enough for the photo wallpaper you want to create:
- pixels wide x 2 / 1000 = print width in feet (plus or minus a foot)
- 3,000 pixels wide can generally print to 6 feet wide (plus or minus a foot)
- 4,000 pixels wide can generally print to 8 feet wide (plus or minus)
- , etc., etc.
Wait… what’s with all of this “plus or minus a foot” mumbo-jumbo?!?!?
Well, the truth is this is as much art as it is science. And even the science is a little funky. You see, not all pixels are created equally. Some will pack in more “information” than others. Some pixels have noise or distortion in them. Some are effected by the software of the camera or even the quality of the lens.
So… generally… if you have a relatively new digital camera or cell phone, it likely has a 12MP, 18MP, 20MP or 24MP camera. A 12MP picture can generally be printed at up to 6 or 8 foot in either direction. A 24MP picture can generally be printed at up to 12 or 14 foot in either direction. But that’s ALL “generally.” When in doubt, let us check it out – we might be able to create some magic for you.
The above guidelines are meant to help for planning purposes. If you’re taking pictures with the explicit purpose of turning them into wallpaper murals, you’ll want to make sure you’re using a phone or camera with the highest MP rating possible.
Helpful Hints for Shooting Pictures You’ll Turn into Wallpaper Murals
- Change your camera’s settings to take the largest size, highest resolution photos possible. You want the most megapixels and the least compression. You’ll find these in your camera’s LCD menu.
- Use a tripod or some other sort of stable base. All of the pictures you take probably look great on the back of your camera or on your phone, but when blown up to a mural size just a little bit of movement might create recognizable blur and an out-of-focus look.
- A stable base is even more important if you’re taking a low-light. The less light there is, the longer your camera will need to take the picture. The longer the camera is shooting, the more likely you’d move the camera just a bit.
- For the same reason, use a remote to click the shutter. This prevents the chance that just the pressure of clicking the shutter release on the camera will cause some movement.
- Make sure your camera is level (unless you’re going for artistic effect) and take the time to focus.
- Do not use the “digital zoom,” function; it produces softer images that will look blurry when printed in our large formats. Instead, use your camera’s “optical zoom.”
- Shoot multiple pictures, over and over. You can never have too many.
I’ve Already Taken My Photos – Now What?
But what if you’ve already taken the picture? It’s beautiful, the whole family is together on vacation, and it can’t be retaken. Well…
The easiest way to check is to just upload it here, input your desired size, and let our image quality tool take a look. If the tool says the image quality isn’t good enough, then either use a different picture, select a smaller size, or send it to us and ask if we can work our magic for you.
It’s Exactly The Picture I Want… Except For One Thing
While it’d be awesome if you’re a wizard with Adobe Photoshop and can remove unwanted photo-bombers, electrical lines and telephone poles, etc. — most photos work best as wall murals and large prints when submitted in their original/natural state without filters, image manipulation, or any kind of editing. While photo-editing can drastically improve a small print, it usually adds noise and distortion to a large print. Just download it from your camera or phone and upload it to our site. On our site, you’ll be able to crop the image (particularly as needed to match the size of the print you want) and adjust the color/tone to sepia or black and white.
If you’re not a Photoshop expert but there are things you want changed in your image (like erasing your ex from the family photo or ditching the trash can on the beach), then just send your image to us at [email protected] and we can take care of those things for you. Because, well… we are Photoshop geniuses. We know just how to fix it so it looks good when printed in our large formats. FYI: Depending on how much effort is required, there may be a nominal fee in addition to the standard cost of the mural. Be sure to be explicit with your instructions and include your phone number so we can call to discuss.
But What If I Am A Photoshop Expert?
Then by all means… work your magic. Do all of the manipulations and enhancements you want. But… check the image, inch by inch, at 100% of size that you want printed. If you’re creating an 8 foot by 10 foot mural, then look at it on your monitor as full sized and slowly scroll form screen to screen. If you notice distortion in your image or elements in a panoramic shot that didn’t stitch together properly or anything else funky, then you’ll notice them in your mural too.
Always double check your panoramic shots. Even though you took the picture as one shot, it’s generally a composite shot made up of multiple images stitched together. You’ll want to be on the lookout for disjointed elements that don’t line up correctly.
Elements that are virtually invisible when looking at a small image or print can be quite noticeable when blown up to cover your wall. We once had a customer with a beautiful picture of the family standing on some ancient steps of a Roman ruin. The sky was blue with wispy clouds, everyone had a great smile and open eyes… just a perfect picture from a wonderful vacation. Until it was blown up to life-sized and all your eye was drawn to were the piles of cigarette butts on the ground. It was just such a jarring juxtaposition. No worries, though… we erased the butts… bringing focus back to the family and the wonderful memories created together.
If you’d like to take a look for nasty stuff like this in your own photos but you don’t have Photoshop, you can use a free tool like Free Picture Resizer (which you’ll download and use on your computer) or BeFunky (which is a great, free, on-line picture editor for the novice). Both of them will allow you to view your images at least up to 400% of their full, original size.
Note: With BeFunky, you’ll be tempted to play around with all of their image editing tools to change contrast, sharpen, remove background, change colors, etc. It’s fun. But don’t do it with the image you plan on enlarging into a wallpaper mural. It will add noise and distortion to your final product. (But for sharing online, printing in small sizes, etc. – go ahead, play around, have fun!)
With the Free Picture Resizer*, you
- open up the program,
- select/open your photo,
- select the “Resize” function,
- change the scale to inches,
- input how large you want your printed image to be in the “New Size,” field,
- click OK,
- Then select “100%” under the “Zoom Out,” function.
You’ll then be able to see what your digital image will look like (more or less) when printed at your desired size. If you’re printing a large mural, you probably won’t even recognize that what is showing on screen is your own photo. You’ll need to mouse over the image (your cursor will turn into a hand) and move the image left and right/up and down in order to review the entire image. To see the whole image on your screen, just go to the Zoom function and select “Fit Screen.”
*Note: While we’re using Free Picture Resizer and BeFunky as examples here, we do not “endorse,” them or make any claims or warranties about them. We have no partnership nor other relationship with them. We’ve downloaded and used it without mishap or any problems, but you never know when that might change or they might be hacked, etc. So… use at your own risk, make sure you read all of the fine print in the boxes that pop up during installation, etc. In short: our lawyers want it to be clear that we accept no liability for anything you do that doesn’t involve only our site and services.
Scanning Takes Your Already Printed & Vintage Pictures To A Higher Level
One of the hottest trends right now in the interior design world is using vintage photos to create photo wallpaper and wall murals. These are photos that never existed in digital form, so you’ll need to get them scanned.
If you have a relatively new flatbed scanner, that might be good enough. You’ll want to scan at least at 600DPI. If your scanner setting allows for a higher DPI, then try up to 1200. Anything higher than 1200 is probably overkill.
Save your scanned images as TIFF files. Tagged Image File Format (TIFF) will capture more detailed image information (i.e., do a better job of capturing the photo) than the more familiar JPG files you’re probably used to.
For more details on DPI, PPI, TIFF, JPG, etc., and how/why they’re important when dealing with vintage photos, check out The Photo Restoration Center.
After you’ve got the images scanned and saved as digital files, open them up (as per above) and take a look. Do they look good enough? If so, then upload them here and we’ll take a look. As I reported above, Magic Murals actually looks at every image uploaded prior to printing. You’re in good hands.
But… what if the photo just doesn’t look good to you? Well… email the digital file to us and we’ll see what we can do. We might be able to use some of our tricks and techniques to get rid of those creases and lines and wrinkles. If not, you might be well served by searching for “photo restoration near me.” We recommend using a local service so there’s little chance of your precious photo being lost or damaged in the mail. If you don’t have a local service, check with your local photo shops and see if they can help you. Many of them offer high resolution digital scanning services. Explain to whomever you’re working with that you need a high resolution image that’s going to be used to create a photographic wall mural. They’ll know what you need. If not, just show them this article.
Do Not Show Them These Articles
For a truly complicated way to create your own photo mural, including bringing it to a local printer, check out this article on the HGTV site. You’ll immediately see why it’s so much easier to just upload your photo here and be done and satisfied without unpleasant surprises. There’s an equally terrible article on WikiHow.com with plenty of terrible advice. In particular, they spend a good amount of space talking about how to enhance your photo with editing software… exactly the thing you should NOT do unless you’re a true professional and know how to make such edits without adding noise and distortion to a wallpaper mural-sized print.
Articles like those are exactly why we’ve gone into such detail here for you.